Saturday, November 29, 2008

What does a slumdog know? The answer.

In the case of Jamal Malik, the answer he knows is not necessarily the one that will win him millions of rupees on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The answers he knows are loyalty, love, perseverance, and truth.

In a story largely told in flashbacks, the movie opens with Jamal being tortured by the police as they are sure that no uneducated slumdog would know the answers to win 10 million rupees. As the detective takes him through the background for the answer to each question, we see that Jamal's life has extraordinarily prepared him for this moment. Each answer is the linchpin to a hardwon bit of information in key events of his life which begins as a tyke in the Bombay slums. Jamal and his older brother Salim exemplify brotherly love in this Dickensian tale which shows us modern India in a way that surpasses documentaries. To a point that is. We watch warily as Jamal retains his tenacious grip on truth and loyalty while Salim is only to willing to use brutality to achieve his goals. In the mix is Latika who the brothers encounter as children and who Jamal loves for herself in contrast to Salim who uses her as a playing piece for his own purposes.

As the story begins to catch up to current time, the viewer then finds many other questions such as how Jamal got on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire at all and why he is doing it. This is where the story picks up speed and intensity as the past gives way to the future which the movie characters don't know either.

As with Charles Dickens' way with a story, Slumdog Millionaire shows us a classic tale of adversity and the human spirit told with passion and peril. Yet, despite the bleak slum setting there always are swirling the gleams of hope and humor that keep this story from being depressing. Directory Danny Boyle uses his trademark "canted shots" (Rose has the correct name for everything, being fresh from film classes), swift cuts, close-ups and speed to convey the spirit which carries the film. Anyone who has watched even a few movies set in India knows to expect vivid color and vivacity. Boyle uses this to great effect not only to show us past and modern India, but to express life which is always moving forward despite what has preceded it.

In fact, it just occurred to us that the current tragedy in Mumbai (Bombay) of which Get Religion says, "India, of course, is a culture soaked in religion. It should not be surprising that this massacre is soaked in religious content and imagery..." is reflected to a degree in this movie as well. As modern as the techniques being used by terrorists are, the fact remains that human nature and India are timeless.

Allow me to drop the hint not to miss the credits which express India in a way unique to the movies. Also, the soundtrack deserves credit for keeping us definitely in place. I want it for my repeated enjoyment, but then I'm a sucker for modern Indian music.

The movie is rated R and the rating is earned. However, I will add that Boyle used inference to a large degree for some of the most disturbing scenes and it was these that honestly brought Charles Dickens to mind. There is not much in that movie at which Dickens would not have nodded knowingly. The types of poverty may have changed over the years but the human capacity for both vileness and love have not. I have seen PG-13 movies which have shown greater explicitness than this movie. It is the content of Slumdog Millionaire which is adult, as it rightly should be. This is a story with themes which should be pondered by adults. Those who do so will find themselves enriched on many levels.

Highest recommendation.

Saturday at the Movies

We're getting ready to hit the Magnolia Theater and see Slumdog Millionaire ... I've been really looking forward to this movie.

I have not had any desire to watch Twilight ... not due to the vampires which I see that various folks are cringing at for many of the same reasons they cringed at Harry Potter (magic! gasp!). No, my reasons are due to cringing at bad writing and acting, according to all accounts. (I got enough bad writing listening to DarkFever, which was not written for little girls, by the way ...).

For those who, like me, do not cringe at the occasional explicit word, I refer you to Cleolinda's Movies in 15 Minutes where you will see an absolutely hilarious send up of the movie by someone who saw it. Here's a sample to get you in the mood. For this, one must know the context that the real reason vampires don't go out in the sunlight is that their skin sparkles and that would give them away. Bram Stoker is busy turning in his grave right now ...

BELLA: Oh, wow, I spent like $60 at Sephora trying to get sparkle like that. What is that, Urban Decay?


BELLA: Oh, so it's a drugstore brand?


BELLA: FINE. WHATEVER. But the lipstick, that's gotta be Cargo, right?

The Spirit
For something with a whole lotta style that has us interested at the moment, check out these trailers for The Spirit. Loved Frank Miller's style in 300 and I'd watch Sin City but the girls assure me that I'd hate the extreme violence in all except one segment. I bow to their judgment. I have high hopes for The Spirit though ...

Worth a Thousand Words

Forgotten by Manuela Valenti

Friday, November 28, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words

Aural Delights, the little sibling of the audio science fiction magazine StarShipSofa, is one year old. To celebrate this occasion, StarShipSofa will have a new SF art cover designed each month by science fiction artist Skeet Scienski.
I love this magazine-cover style illustration. I am also quite fond of StarShipSofa as should be any fan of audio science fiction. Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You know, Columbia College is the most amazing sounding school for film majors ...

... Tom was talking Rose through "don't forget this" and "think about that's" before she took off on the L for O'Hare to fly alone for the first time (on the busiest day of the year at one of the busiest airports in the world).

He says they also talked movie stuff, as does everyone she talks with these days. She told me that one of her teachers was the executive producer of "Secondhand Lions". (Not the same guy who does Lifetime movies.) Only one of our favorite imaginative, heart warming movies. Wow.

Story Corp's National Day of Listening on Nov. 28

I thought you and your readers might be interesting in a new initiative StoryCorps in launching to make conducting these interviews easier. This November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps is launching the first-ever National Day of Listening. We’re asking Americans to set aside an hour to record a conversation with a friend, family member, or loved one. We've launched a separate website with more tools and tips, a downloadable guide, and an instructional video for recording family and friends the day after Thanksgiving and beyond. Thank you again for helping us build a movement to honor the people in our lives through listening to them!
StoryCorp is one of my favorite podcasts and this is a great idea. Check it out!

Something Shiny for the Christmas Tree

Yes, it's too early ... but once Bill C. kindly emailed me with this notice, I had to grab one for a fellow Firefly fan. You never know how long these will be in supply, much less available for half price!

I present ... the Firefly grade ship, Serenity.

Someday I really am going to knit Jayne's hat for my pal.

The original place where I found the pattern has vanished, so I found this pattern instead.

However, until then, I think he'll like the ornament.

Thanks Bill!

Worth a Thousand Words

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Novella by J.J. Campanella

This week Uvula Audio premieres an SF novella from J.J. Campanella. The actual podcast gives the full history of the story which dates back about 12 years in its writing, but essentially the story asks what might happen if the Islamic Jihad against the west succeeded. In short,what if the terrorists won? Would there be anything left of Western civilization to stand in their way to total domination? What might arise out of the dust of the west that could resist the martial efforts of a dozen nations.. . ? This story suggests one possibility.. . . By the way, that wonderful crusader pictured in the web page photo above was painted upon the nosecone of a WWII fighter plane. It can be observed in the flesh at a hangar in the New England Air Museum. (Rated M for mature themes and violence.)
You won't hear a better narrator anywhere than J.J. Campanella (ok, Scott Brick is my new crush as a narrator but otherwise, I'm sayin'!). I loved his book The Standards of Creation (my review is here. This will be a treat!

Pick up the podcast here. Just scroll down.

Thanksgiving Sale at Aquinas and More

You don't have to wait in line, you don't even have to leave the house ... and they're checking everything twice to make sure it is faithfully Catholic. Sounds like a great deal to me!
It starts tomorrow evening the 26th (5pm mountain time) and runs through Sunday night the 30th until 9pm. All our jewelry, DVDs, rosaries and chaplets, crucifixes and crosses, and a selection of our statues will be 20% off during the sale. Our Bible studies and Oxford Bibles will be 15% off, and some of our apparel will be 10% off. You can read more details and links to the sections of sale items here.

As always, we offer free shipping on orders over $55.

Thank You President Bush

Sherry at Semicolon has a list of the many things she is thanking President Bush for ... and I heartily agree. I read this article the other day in the Wall Street Journal and it made me think over all the reasons I have supported and liked President Bush these past eight years. So I'm on board with Sherry.
Count me in the whatever-small-percentage of Americans today who heartily approve of the job President George W. Bush has done in leading our country for the past eight years. No, he hasn’t been the perfect president. Yes, I’ve disagreed with him on some issues. But right now I want to say thank you , President Bush for:
Swing by her place to read the list.

As For Me, I'll Be Spending Advent with Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa's Secret Fire by Joseph Langford

This isn't a review because I'm only on page 91 of this 300 or so page book. However, I can tell this is one I'll be reading into Advent and sharing with y'all.

I feel as if I'm being haunted by Mother Teresa (or is that "hunted"?).

Not that other people probably don't feel as if they bump into Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (her "other" name) everywhere they turn. She is a saint for our time, one whose actions spoke to us more personally than any other about the preciousness of each human being, whether man gave value to that soul or not. She spoke also to our poverty of spirit in the West, where we may wallow in material riches but be bereft spiritually, bereft of any true love. Plenty of books have been written about her and doubtless will continue to be written.

In my own case, I have never felt particularly attracted to Mother Teresa. I have never felt like reading about her. Certainly, I have never wanted to know as much as I now do about her life and ministry. Oh, I acknowledged her saintliness, her goodness, and all that. However, I never felt drawn to her or her message in the way, say, that the author of this book, Father Langford did. Early on, he was drawn to a photograph of her, then to the goodness radiating from her work, and then to the words painted on the wall of the convent in Calcutta, "I thirst." Pondering these, he eventually met her and wound up helping found the Missionary of Charity Fathers.

I remember at my in-laws house long ago I picked up Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge. I never had heard of him and had only the slightest acquaintance with the details of Mother Teresa's ministry. I had brought a book with me to read but wound up devouring this one. I actually wound up more interested in Muggeridge to the extent of noticing quotes by him and finding out that he converted to Catholicism due to his encounter with Mother Teresa.

Later I read Revolution of Love by David Scott. Honestly I read that only because I had become friends with David by that time and he sent it to me. Never has an obligation of friendship been more richly rewarded than the many ways I have since been able to see the crying need for Mother Teresa's influence in our society and in our world. That book is very underappreciated and I urge you to seek it out.

Like so many I was sent a copy of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light and I was definitely curious to read about a modern saint's experience of the "dark night of the soul" as St. John of the Cross called it. What I didn't expect was how it would expand my horizons not only about Mother Teresa but about simple human nature and God's love.

I looked at Mother Teresa's Secret Fire in The Catholic Company's list of items reviewers could choose and thought, "No way. I have read enough books about Mother Teresa, thank you very much." It took a very nice and flattering email from Our Sunday Visitor's PR person to make me rethink reading this book (yes, I am sadly susceptible to flattery just as much, if not more, than the next person).

Last night I was reading and came across this in her "Varanasi Letter":
Be careful of all that can block that personal being in touch with the living Jesus. The hurts of life, and sometimes your own mistakes -- [may] make you feel it is impossible that Jesus reeally loves you, is really clinging to you. This is a danger for all of you. And so sad, because it is completely opposite of what Jesis is really wanting, waiting to tell you.

Not only He loves you, even more -- He longs for you. He misses you when you don't come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy. Even if you are not accepted by others, even yourself sometimes--He is the one who always accepts you. ...
Somehow it clicked. I understood on a level that was hard to verbalize, hard to grasp fully. I connected with that feeling of "the beloved," of being newly in love and yearning to be with your beloved so much that it hurt whenever you were apart.

Shaken, I was thinking of this and began flipping through the pages of the book toward the end (something I never do). I came across Appendix Three which points out that Mother Teresa is merely the latest in a long line of witnesses to Jesus' thirst for us. St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Padre Pio, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and very many more ... even the Catechism of the Catholic Church ... all attest to God's thirst for us.
2560 "If you knew the gift of God!" (Jn 4:10). The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desier for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him...
I was further shaken. I never knew of this far-reaching testimony to the sheer depths of Love's desire ... thirst ... for the true fullness of reciprocated love, and all for the sake of those God loves. I suddenly felt very little. Not that I felt less. But little in the face of the overwhelming thirst of Jesus for each and every one of us. Including me.

There is much more than that in the first 91 pages alone and I do not want to rush this. Therefore, I present this as a long introduction to what I will be contemplating during Advent. Rest assured that along the way I will be sharing the nuggets I feel can stand somewhat alone.


Almost as exciting as having Rose home for Thanksgiving ...

... was when Tom called me over to his computer where he and Rose were having a conversation about Christmas flight reservation. She had her webcam on and I could see her!

NOW I'm really excited! I can't wait ...

AND Hannah is driving in this afternoon.


Worth a Thousand Words

Frans Pieter Lodewyk van Kuyck (1852–1915):
Peasant girl knitting while waiting for the laundry to dry in the sun

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quick Looks at Two Good Books for Advent

Can you believe that we are in the final days of the end of the liturgical year?

As much as I love Ordinary Time (and I love Ordinary Time), I actually am really looking forward to Advent. I feel it will be so calm and meditative and ... I have absolutely no reason for thinking so. Work is still nutty, as it should be at this time of year, and there is Christmas shopping and the Beyond Cana retreat prep continues apace and then there's the podcast and guest reading for StarShipSofa and ...well you get the idea.

However, I'm going with the power of positive thinking and going to try hard to make at least my prayer time calm and meditative and connected to God. As it should be always, indeed, but with the special emphasis on looking forward to Jesus, the Light of the World, as well as reflections on Last Things.

Which is all a very long introduction to these two books that I've meant to tell you about for at least a week now. (But craziness at work, etc. ... so ... ) Maybe, just maybe, my sense of calm is due to having been reading these and thinking about them.

Your beloved knocks. The door opens. You meet Mom.

And she turns out to be the nicest person you've ever met.

She welcomes you into the family, and she radiates kindness and beauty. All that worrying, all those moments of self-doubt subside, and in a matter of seconds you feel excited to be in her presence. You look around and don't see the father, but you sense that he is everywhere in this home.

Now let's take a step back. You have never experienced a love like the one you have with your beloved, and, while you feel an openness, you admit to yourself that this person can be a mystery to you. You have questions. It's not that you don't feel close to your beloved, it's just that you begin to hunger and thirst to know everything about this love that has come into your life. And to be perfectly honest, you feel intimidated, because your beloved is such a complete person, and you feel more often than not, less than whole.

What were you like as a child? What were your parents doing before they had you? What were your friends like? Did you ever get lost? What were some of the loneliest times of your life? Why did you come into my life?

You've held off asking some of these questions of your beloved, but here in front of Mom, you feel strangely comfortable to let loose. It's as if she is standing there ready to embrace you and help you understand everything. Who better than your beloved's mother to answer all these questions swirling in your mind? Who better to provide insight than the woman who carried your beloved in her body for nine months and who experienced the pain and joy of bringing her child into the world?

You begin to ask all your questions, and this woman who you've just met seemingly transforms into your own mother. She smiles and takes down a scrapbook and the two of you begin looking at pictures. This is a picture of me when I first found out I was going to have a baby, she says. This is a picture of my cousin and me, we were both pregnant at the same time. Here's one right after the birth. So many people came to visit us. Here are a few pictures of a wedding we attended, and this is a picture of . . .

So you sit in her presence and page through the scrapbook of their lives. These pictures tell stories, and you begin to understand what was once a mystery. You feel this family's happiness, their sorrows, their illuminations, and the glory of their lives. Allof a sudden, the worries, the fears, the doubts, the brokenness, the distractions that you seem to feel on a daily basis fall away snd you are transformed by love.

That is the Rosary.
I have admitted before that I have an on-again, off-again relationship with saying the rosary. However, even during the "off" times I notice that when I have to make a difficult phone call, I am saying a "Hail Mary" under my breath as I dial. It reminds me that I am to be a disciple as she was the most perfect disciple ... it gives me calm ... and, hey, it can't hurt to have Mary saying a prayer for you!

This book made drove away the "off" time even though it is simply a decade or two during my morning prayer walk. Perhaps that is because it is elegant in its simplicity, just as the rosary really is if we do it without complicating matters. Gary Jansen introduces us to the rosary in his own life, gives us the basics, and then provides some lovely art as a meditation aid for each of the mysteries. Even in this basic format he give us much to ponder, as with the excerpt above. That put Mary in a whole new light during my meditations.

Not only is the book lovely but it also reaches out to other than Catholics. I always am curious about how people from outside Catholicism explain devotions that are seen as being strictly "Catholic." Jansen does such a good job that it will help slough off any labels put on this timeless meditation on Christ's life, death, and passion. Highly recommended.

Christmas with the Holy Fathers
Compiled by Peter Celano
Light in Darkness
Pope Pius XII
Christmas Message, 1942

His light can overcome the darkness, the rays of His love can conquer the icy egoism which holds so many back from beoming great and conspicuous in their higher life. To you, crusader-volunteers of a distinguished new society, live up to the new call for moral and Christian rebirth, declare war on the darkness which comes from deserting god, of the coolness that comes from strife between brothers. It is a fight for the human race, which is gravely ill and must be healed in the name of conscience ennobled by Christianity.


The Lesson of Silence--A Prayer
Pope Paul VI
Reflections at Nazareth
January 5, 1964

The lesson of silence: may there return to us an appreciation of this stupendous and indispensable spiritual condition, deafened as we are by so much tumult, so much noise, so many voices of our chaotic and frenzied modern life. O silence of Nazareth, teach us recollection, reflection, and eagerness to heed the good inspirations and words of true teachers; teach us the need and value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of interior life, of secret prayer seen by God alone.
It is easy to see from the two samples above, the messages of past Holy Fathers during Advent and Christmas are timeless. Both those excerpts give us so much food for thought, good reminders of how to recenter our lives, how to reorder our priorities rightly. As our modern lives are even more chaotic and busy than of times past, this is the perfect time to pick up this little book for regular contemplation during Advent and the Christmas season. These meditation-sized pieces come from as far back as Pope Saint Gregory I the Great (590-604) right into current time with our own Pope Benedict XVI. They are divided into sections covering: Advent (Including the Feast of the Immaculate Conception); Christmas Eve, The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord (a.k.a. Christmas); Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; and The Feast of the Epiphany. It is surprising how many topics can be covered under those categories. All of them looked like things that I needed to be reminded of and many of them I have taken to prayer since reading them. You may find the same for yourself. Highly recommended.

Worth a Thousand Words

Life Magazine photo from 1949: Chinese Nationalist Troops Retreat to the Yangtze River, China.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Realize That I've Grown Used to Life Without the Kids

Certainly that is the case when it concerns my grocery shopping. Both girls are coming home for Thanksgiving break and when I read over my list, combined with necessary Thanksgiving feast supplies, it looked to me as if I were preparing for an army to descend upon us.

Not that they eat so much, after all. But it is doubling my usual shopping which I finally had gotten used to cutting down to size for two and, it must be faced, that there are some things which they consume more of than we do. For instance, my old habits of buying 2-3 gallons of milk weekly, instead of the current 1/2 gallon ...

However, the extra scurrying and buying and laying in of provisions makes me feel celebratory in advance. That is a nice thing and no doubt about it.

Also, I was at the store when I suddenly realized that I will have the perfect chance to try out Sara Roahen's recipe for Turkey Bone Gumbo. She very kindly sent an email and then some of her recipes after reading my review of her book. I probably will have to freeze the carcass and make it the weekend after as Hannah has requested Mexican food and my family's tradition of chef salad (with turkey, blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon ... mmmm, crumbled bacon ....) must be satisfied before they return to college next Sunday. However, the prospect of trying out that recipe is exciting also. (Y'all know that sometimes it takes very little to get me going ...)

Worth A Thousand Words

A Street in Venice, John Singer Sargeant, 1882

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good News for TAN Books and Catholic Book Lovers

TAN Books has been struggling financially for some time. They have been bought by Saint Benedict Press which from a perusal of their website looks like a good match.

Worth a Thousand Words

Breakfast Nook by the talented Belinda Del Pesco

Christ the Messiah: Who Do You Say He Is?

Although Jesus as Messiah is not something that I would normally reflect upon, I have been doing so for some time, prompted by a Jewish acquaintance's assertion that Jesus does not fulfill a specific requirement.

She maintains that Isaiah 2:4 is perfectly clear on the criteria one would have to meet to be a messiah:
He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.
Therefore, in her view, to make a messianic claim Jesus would have to end all wars and disband all standing armies.

I want to make it clear that this acquaintance is an honest truth-seeker. I honor her constant seeking. These are merely the musings that her commentary in blogging and podcasting have prompted within myself.

Now this acquaintance is relatively learned in the ways of Christianity and Catholicism. Certainly she is much more well read in these than I am in Judaism, which would be to say that I don't really know about Judaism except for background material learned for scripture study. That sort of knowledge doesn't necessarily relate to modern day Jewish theology, I realize.

My first reaction would be to say that I regularly have to beat a sword into a plowshare in my own heart as I realize my own stubborn, extreme reactions to the people around me. I have gotten better at making these realizations before I "raise my sword" and definitely try not to "train for war" as I once would have. In my own view, this is an ongoing process not only for myself but for all Christians as we work our way homewards. In that sense, Jesus fulfils that prophecy because, let me tell you, I never would have credited my inward changes and striving to improve my "warlike tendencies" before becoming Christian.

Moreover, I am left in in a somewhat similar position to this acquaintance who openly admits, "I don't understand the Holy Trinity." I, myself, don't really understand taking one line of the Bible, possibly out of context, and holding it up as a requirement. I look back at how very many times God has surprised the heck out of Old Testament figures and wrought surprising wonders for them. Often this results in a new understanding of what one thought was already understood. I mean to say, think of Abraham having to go up to the point of sacrificing Isaac. Or the labyrinthine way that Joseph (of the coat of many colors) wound up saving his people during that famine.

Looking at this background information about Jewish expectations for the Messiah just increases my mystification. How can one solidly say that there is a concrete definition when we can see these myriad interpretations by the many learned people over history?
Background: Messiah, Christ
There is a temptation to define the meaning of the title “Messiah,” or “Christ,” in terms of who Jesus is, and to presume that this is the meaning that the word messiah had for Jews at the time of Jesus. The situation was more complex, however. The Hebrew word messiah is a noun meaning “anointed one,” that is, a person anointed, or smeared, as with olive oil. Israelite kings were ceremonially anointed, as were high priests. Thus a king could be referred to as God’s “anointed” (Psalm 2:2). Based partly on a prophecy of the prophet Nathan, an expectation developed that an anointed descendant of David would play a decisive role in God’s plans for his people; Nathan had prophesied to David that his throng would “stand firm forever” (2 Sam 7:16). David’s dynasty came to an end with the Babylonian conquest of 587 B.C., and Jews were under foreign rule for the next four centuries.

In the two centuries before Jesus, there was a resurgence of hopes for rule by a descendant of David—a messiah. Alongside various expectations for a kingly messiah. Jewish writings from this period spoke of other messianic figures; there was no single clearly defined picture of a messiah. One Jewish group, the Essenes, expected God to send two messiahs: a kingly messiah descended from David and a priestly messiah descended from Aaron. Most messianic hopes had a political dimension: God would bring an end to Roman domination. Some expected God to bring the present age to an end and to usher in a new age. There was no expectation that a messiah would suffer: the “servant” of Isaiah 52:13-53­–53:12 was not identified with the Messiah before the time of Jesus.

Jesus was ambivalent about being called the Messiah. On the one hand, he could accept it, because he was establishing the reign of God as God’s agent. On the other hand, popular understandings of what a messiah would do usually included the overthrow of Roman rule, and that was not Jesus’ mission. Jesus clarified what it meant for him to be called the Messiah through his teachings, death, and resurrection. The New Testament, written in Greek, uses the Greek word for “anointed,” as its most common title for Jesus, so much so that it evolved from being a title (Jesus the Christ) to being virtually a second name (Jesus Christ).
It was when I was first thinking about all this that I came across this reading in the Liturgy of the Hours. It was some time ago as I have been pondering this on and off for some time. I really did laugh out loud when I got to "for Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom...". It was so in keeping with the multiple arguments I'd heard for the "beating swords into plowshares" from this particular acquaintance.
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside."

Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?

For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Of course, who would know the Jewish mindset as well as Paul who was not only thoroughly trained but spent plenty of time sparring with Jews and Gentiles as he spread the Gospel.

I do know that it takes more than study, more than verses and proof, to even have an inkling of Jesus. It takes a leap of faith in addressing to him the question, "Are you there?" "Who are you?"

That is foolishness to those who have not done it. I praise God that I was so prompted to make that leap myself. It cannot be proven but must come to be in each person's heart as they experience God one-on-one and wrestle with the questions that keep them on the path to the fullness of truth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If My Life Were A ...

... Short Story

... Play

... Poem

... Novel

Then which ones would it be?

That is the little game that Enbrethiliel was playing. It took my fancy as these things do.

It is one thing to say that one has a favorite in these categories and quite another to find one which reflects some essence of one's life. That makes such a question quite an entertaining one to fall back upon in moments of spare time.

The interesting thing is that the answers have quite surprised me. Actually, I also was surprised that I thought of the answer to the poem first of all, considering that I am not crazy about poetry.

I haven't thought of a play yet. I have not actually seen tons of plays, it occurs to me, and therefore I am suffering from a paucity of material. However, I continue musing on that ...

So I will answer these one at a time.

If my life were a poem it would be...
The King's Breakfast

The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, "Certainly,
I'll go and tell the cow
Before she goes to bed."

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told
The Alderney:
"Don't forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread."
The Alderney
Said sleepily:
"You'd better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade

The Dairymaid
Said, "Fancy!"
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
"Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It's very

The Queen said
And went to
His Majesty:
"Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little

The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

The Queen said,
"There, there!"
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, "There, there!"
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
"There, there!
I didn't really
Mean it;
Here's milk for his porringer,
And butter for his bread."

The Queen took
The butter
And brought it to
His Majesty;
The King said,
"Butter, eh?"
And bounced out of bed.
"Nobody," he said,
As he kissed her
"Nobody," he said,
As he slid down the banisters,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"

Alan Alexander Milne
Why the heck is this my life?

The question would center around whether or not the king is a fussy man.

If you contend that he is, then I have much in common with him as I have definite preferences for practically everything. Quite often, if I can't have it the way I like it then I might just as well go back to bed.

Not that I would go back to bed. I also would not skip breakfast. However, I might just skip the toast altogether.

That was the past Julie D. (The pre-Christian Julie D. ... and, to be honest, some of the Christian Julie D. as well).

If we declare that the King is not fussy but just knows what matters and what is right to put on his toast ... essentially knows how to hold out for the truth of what makes toast its very best ... well, can't we all see that part of me? The one that digs in her heels for what is true and will put up a bit of a fight to make her point?

Also I believe that I essentially am a person who would slide down bannisters regularly in an expression of joy, should there ever be any bannisters around.

Now, that was as fine a bit of "reading into" as I believe can be done with a children's poem.

Wortth a Thousand Words

Found at BibliOdyssey where there are many other board games of antiquity to peruse.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Keep Seeing References on Food Blogs About to How To Manage a Meatless Thanksgiving

First of all, what are these people? Communists?

Secondly, if a vegetarian can't find plenty of delicious vegetable dishes at a standard Thanksgiving feast then they're just not trying hard enough.

Or not going to the right house. C'mon by ... we'll fix you up.

I opened the book and saw ...

First a bit of context.

Catholic Bibliophagist reviewed one of William L. Biersach's books featuring a Catholic priest solving murders. It sounded something out of the ordinary and our library didn't have anything by that author. Eventually I found a second-hand copy of the first in the series online (they aren't cheap and I was shopping around to try to find the lowest price) and ordered it.

It took some time for the book, The Endless Knot, to arrive. Every so often I'd remember it and then wonder if I didn't actually order it but just thought about ordering it. Ah well.

Yesterday, however, it showed up at my door. To my surprise (yes, this is where you came in, dear readers), I opened the book and saw, handwritten on the title page:
To John Zmirak

It was a dark and stormy night ...
... even if it WAS Christmas!

Endlessly knotty,
William L. Biersach
Christmas 2001
John Zmirak?

I knew that name!

He co-wrote the very entertaining "Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living" and it's sequel, as well as various other articles that I'd read around the blogosphere.

How likely was it that such a very Catholic book would have been inscribed to another John Zmirak? How likely is it that there even is another John Zmirak ... that's a pretty unusual name.

Anyway. I found it a delightful surprise and a "virtual reality" sort of link to an author I enjoy.


(Though only on page 26, I'm enjoying the book immensely so far ... despite having noticed the odd device mentioned by Catholic Bibliophagist in the review, it doesn't bother me.)

An Unexpected Treat

I got to sit next to my friend Heather last night in Scripture Study. I just don't get to see her enough (or ever, let's face it) so that was a real treat.

It also reminded me that I don't think I have pointed y'all to her blog, The Practicing Catholic, nearly enough. She's got many thoughtful pieces that I have enjoyed reading and gotten a lot from. Check it out.

Because I'm So Busy I Present ... Hitching a Ride

This is hypnotically entertaining whilst simultaneously bringing a smile to any animal lover's lips.

Worth a Thousand Words

Clark Gable
Of course.

Found at Mental Floss Blog where you can also find a list of 10 facts about Clark Gable.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Humanae Vitae ... A Fresh, Vibrant Look at Married Life

As a stop gap while our next book was being ordered (A Jesuit Off Broadway), our Catholic women's book club read the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae. It is the 40th year since Pope Paul VI released it, as most Catholics who browse the blogosphere are well aware.

Like most, I was vaguely aware of the contents but only through hearsay. I was blown away to find it a masterpiece of logic, reason, and thorough understanding of what a married couple strives for in their lives together.
This love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.

It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.

Married love is also faithful and exclusive of all other, and this until death. This is how husband and wife understood it on the day on which, fully aware of what they were doing, they freely vowed themselves to one another in marriage. Though this fidelity of husband and wife sometimes presents difficulties, no one has the right to assert that it is impossible; it is, on the contrary, always honorable and meritorious. The example of countless married couples proves not only that fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage, but also that it is the source of profound and enduring happiness.

Finally, this love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. "Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents' welfare."
It was interesting the the group spanned young, single women; recently married; someone who is having her fifth child; and ... me, who will celebrate 25 years of married bliss next year. All of us found so much to relate to and were highly impressed by the care and regard the Pope had put into this piece. Moreover, 40 years later, we looked back and were mightily impressed as well in the breaking of the naturally intertwined cycle of marital love and the "generation of life" mankind broke so much more. I now have a much better understanding of why people say that contraception is what led to abortion. When one thing is taken casually in order to make life more convenient, then it begins a way of thinking that leads to casual convenience in other ways that do not hold life as sacred.

As well, because of my involvement for the past few years in our parish's Beyond Cana marriage retreat, I was able to see how this encyclical has so much of the essential understanding necessary for our marriages to be able to elevate us to the best that we can be ... rather than settling for second-best.

This is the barest of skimming of what we discussed.

I highly recommend that if you have not read this important document in a thoughtful fashion, that you take it up and do so. Do not be satisfied as I was to read what others say about it. Read it for yourself.

If You Count Every Number Twice ... You've Got Global Warming!

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running. ...
Read the whole story here. Via John C. Wright.

Worth a Thousand Words

Puerta en Roma.
Originally uploaded by drews32 and found by me in the Flickr Door Pool.

One Guy. One Composer. One Story.

Five minutes of telling Star Wars while spanning John William's movie scores ... highly enjoyable music and creativity (and, yes, you will also laugh).

Starting to see this around but Theophany All Over's headline made me listen.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Online Faith Forum - From Loyola Press

In an effort to provide a place for people to share ideas and be inspired, Loyola Press has started an online community where you can start faith conversations, swap ideas, connect with old friends and new, and grow in your friendship with God.

We invite your readers to visit the forum which will be open this Friday, November 14th. It's simple – all you & your readers have to do is just login and let the conversation begin!
I actually got signed up but have been too busy to do any talking. It looks pretty good though and should be a good place to have some interesting conversations. Check it ou!

The work, she is overwhelming me ...

... so I will just be popping in briefly, at least until tomorrow.

Makes me glad that I posted a nice goodie that will pop up mid-morning for your enjoyment.

Worth a Thousand Words

Turtles Sunning by Hey Jules who knows how very much I love turtles, especially stacked in the sun!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words

An Oddment by Duane Keiser
What's an oddment? Click through and find out.

Blog Awards Time Rolls Round Again

I tend to focus more on the Catholic Blog Awards because, let's face it, Catholic blogs are where I live.

However, I see that this year's Weblog Awards have returned Best Religious Blog as a category.
Nominate your choice for Best Religious Blog. This is a return for a category that was dropped last year. Our objection was that most of the nominated bloggers were not primarily religious bloggers, but were usually mostly news and politics bloggers. We'll be watching the nomination pool this year to see if the religious blogger community is larger than it was two years ago.
I know that folks who swing by here know of lots of fantastic bloggers who are primarily religious. Let's go nominate them so that the category will be taken seriously and others can see what a resource is out there should they be interested in reading thoughtful religious commentary.

Also, I like this awards because they have categories that relate to the Technorati authority (size) and so even the smallest bloggers have their own category (Hidden Gem). Here's the overall category listing if you want to venture further afield. I have to say that I can't find movie blogs for a nomination I want to make ... even though they have so much variety that there is even a podcast category (hint, hint) ... that's got to be because I'm not reading carefully enough.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Fresh New Look for Loyola Press's Website

I heard they were redoing it but ... wow! This really looks great!

Via Not Lukewarm.

A "Champion of Abortion" Becomes Defender of Life

Madrid, Nov 12, 2008 / 09:21 pm (CNA).- Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

"The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue," the newspaper reported. "Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares."

In describing his conversion, Adasevic "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. 'My name is Thomas Aquinas,' the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn't recognize the name"

"Why don't you ask me who these children are?" St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

"They are the ones you killed with your abortions," St. Thomas told him.
Read the whole story which literally gave me chills when I read it. Truly amazing and a real blessing to both Adasevic's soul and the lives of the people he will touch from now on.

Much thanks to Mark Windsor for sending me the link.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There's No Such Thing as a Free Book. Or Is There?

Caite at a lovely shore breeze reviews plenty of books with a discerning eye. She receives review book copies and now takes up the question of whether receiving a review book constitutes an unspoken contract with the publisher.

She covers the myriad attitudes taken by different bloggers and also considers what the publishers expect in return. (She also lists many programs whereby bloggers can seek out review books ... you may want to read it simply for those program names if you blog and are an avid reader.)
I have seen blogs that don't really review but rather just sort of describe a book. I have read bloggers who say, happily, that never write a bad review. I don't 'get' that and it's not my cuppa tea, but if that's what floats your boat, grand.

But I want to be a salesman for books. Good books, exciting books, moving books, books that will change people, or make them scared or make them cry or make them laugh, books that they will remember for years and want others to read. That is my pleasure in a blog.
This is something that I have pondered myself, if not in such depth. My policy is that if I have picked up a book at the library or some such place or have received an unexpected package with review books ... they are fair game. I will give a good or bad review as I feel fit. Admittedly, I give few bad reviews because, like Caite, I usually am more interested in urging people to try books that I, personally, get excited about. Heck, I even began my Forgotten Classics podcast for the specific purpose of pushing my favorite books on others by reading aloud.

I will give the occasional bad review to books I feel it necessary to warn others against. However, many books are mediocre or just not to my taste and I don't bother mentioning them. There are plenty of those.

The only time I will decline to give a bad review, or any review at all, is if it is for a book that I have been specifically asked if I would like to review. I do feel that my agreement of having some interest in the book is an unspoken "contract" to that extent. This is especially true since some of these requests come from authors and I feel that it would be a kick in the teeth to take a book from them and then to trash it publicly. There are several cases where I have contacted an author or publisher's rep in such circumstances, explained my problems with giving any sort of review, and offered to return the book. On the other hand, I don't automatically feel it is necessary to give a glowing review in such circumstances. I always will be honest above all. Y'all know, though, that where I love, I love passionately or not at all. So ... you can take it from there.

Worth a Thousand Words

Mother Superior by Karin Jurick

A Little Useless Information

It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. -- Oscar Wilde
FRANCIS • This has been a common name for men since the 1600s. Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) gets most of the credit for the popularization of the name, but he was actually baptized Giovanni. It was his nickname that would stick--Francesco--coined by his father after he returned from a trip to France. In Late Latin, the word franciscus means "Frenchman."
The Word Origin Calendar

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Onion on International Con Man, Barack Obama

CHICAGO—In a devastating blow to millions of unsuspecting Americans, newly elected president and international con man Barack Obama fled the country Wednesday with nearly $85 million in campaign funds. ...

"If you are reading this, then I have already left your silly country in my private jet, and am right now sipping fine champagne with my lovely associate, a woman you have come to know as 'Michelle.'"
Oh, The Onion, how funny it can be. I found the photos especially humorous. (Comment: humor can be explicit. Use your own discretion.)

Elizabeth has some hilarious clips from the South Park post election special. Laugh out loud funny!

Christmas Shopping from Monastic and Cottage Businesses

I was going to assemble a post like this ... but I see that The Anchoress is waaay ahead of me (I'm not surprised!). I'm a sucker for fruitcake and mustard which I see among the offerings but I've got to admit I'm very intrigued by this lip balm and the lavendar hand lotion.
I’ve already proclaimed the lip balm made by the Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ to be the BEST. Lip. Balm. Evah but I have to tell you the more I use their lavender scented hand lotion, the more I love it. The scent is light, the glide is smooth, the ingredients are pure and a little goes a looooong way. I like it as a whole-body lotion, too, not just for the hands. The sisters are getting very creative with their little shoppe, introducing a line of Christmas-themed soaps and pump-action room sprays in delicate scents. I haven’t tried the room sprays, yet - I’m not much of a girl for those things, as a rule, but they sound worth a shot. They also have balm/lotion samplers, soap gift crates and more. As the sisters are engaged in raising money to meet their day-to-day expenses, but they’re trying to make repairs to their growing house of prayer, and so they’re especially grateful for their customers.
I may be doing a lot of shopping from the folks in her post.

Worth a Thousand Words

These Days Atheists Don't Understand How to Be Atheists

"Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."
I tell you, although I wish with all my heart that my mother and father would find faith, whining stories like these make me proud of their honest-to-goodness atheism.

They don't mess about pretending to be "left out." In fact, they practice that virtue which many of us wish that some of our religious brethren would take up ... they keep it to themselves, don't proseltyze, and let everyone believe what they wish.

Feel threatened because of "the holidays?" They would laugh at that. As true humanists, they glory in the secular aspects of Christmas and Easter (candy and lamb and some classic movies on tv). To feel threatened is to give power to something that they believe is nonexistant. As for needing an ad campaign to be good people ... they would scoff. We were raised in the good, old-fashioned secular way of being good people. No ad campaign needed for that. Just good values. Believe it or not, nonbelievers have them.

Give me a real atheist any time. They are honest enough with themselves that if the light shines bright enough then they might be honest enough to stop, wonder, and investigate it.

Thanks to The Anchoress for the heads-up on this one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You to Our Veterans

A touching commentary to which I add my wholehearted, "Thank you!"

52. It's a Comic Book. No, It's a Graphic Novel! NO, It's an Audio Book!

An audio book in two parts, to be precise.

My review can be found at SFFaudio.

This. Is. A. Gorgeous. Book

The Vatican: Secrets and Treasures of the Holy City

A few weeks ago I received an elaborate mailing piece for this book. I looked through it longingly and then resolutely threw the pieces in the trash. I had no business purchasing a book right now, even if it was a DK Publishing book ... those grown-up picture books that I love so much.

You can easily imagine my delight then when I received an email offering a review copy the next week.

What you may not be able to so easily imagine is just how beautiful this book is. In fact, I took it to my Scripture Study class the night I received it and was afraid I wouldn't get it back. Person after person paged through, lingering over the beautiful photography of the gardens, treasures, and buildings. Each of them asked the price ($35) and then would say, "That's all? But it's such a big book with so much in it..."

Actually, upon checking, I found that DK offers it for a nice discount and Amazon for an even steeper one.

So now that all those preliminaries are out of the way, just what is in this book?

The author is a historian and former Vatican employee who clearly knows his way around the ins and outs of Vatican City. He also knows the Vatican officials well enough to have gotten full cooperation and to be able to display some things that the regular visitor would never see.

Divided into six sections that cover the Church year, history, architecture, daily life, people and treasures, the book goes into much more depth than one would expect. True, many of the 320 pages feature the stunning photography that is DK's trademark. However, the history section has a succinct yet thorough overview of popes and their accomplishments than I expected. In fact, it is nice to see one that handles the basics so well without getting bogged down in the details. Admittedly I tend to read some very indepth books.

I think that my favorite section features people and their jobs. We see at work those famous Swiss Guards (and their training), the ceremonies assistant, the mosaic restorer, the papal photographer, and even what extensive practice that one must have to sing in the choir. All these have multiple photos and captions that put us in place with them.

However, I also enjoyed the architecture section more than I thought I would. Let's face it. It is unlikely that I will ever go to Rome, much less the Vatican. This book puts me there where so much that is integral to the Catholic faith takes place and has taken place for hundreds and hundreds of years.

This is well worth the price and would make a wonderful special Christmas gift for someone. Highly recommended.

To see more inside spreads, visit

Worth a Thousand Words

Macrocercus ararauna
Blue and yellow maccaw
by Edward Lear
(yes, that Edward Lear ...
read all about it at Bibliodyssey as well as see more of these gorgeous drawings)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Because It's Been Kinda Serious Around Here Lately, I Present ... The Hamburger Dress

Via Serious Eats. Is this great or what?

I Won! I Won!

I never win things. If you want to win something have Tom enter for it. He wins a disproportionate amount of the time.

But that streak is now broken. Here's the review of A Thousand Veils that inspired me to enter in the first place. It sounds like a fascinating book.

NaPraGoMo 2 (National Pray to God Month 2)

Why are we here at this blog? ...Or why are we here, period? Believe it or not, this post answers both questions.

Many of you may be familiar with NaNoWriMo, the month where everyone who bears a novel within buckles down and writes it out. As a twist on that fine idea, this is also a perfect month to gets one's prayer life jump-started, improved, deepened, etc. Hence "NaPraGoMo" (National Pray To God Month).

Prayer is the best of habits; it truly does change the way you see things. In stopping and lifting your mind and heart to God, you are giving God permission to act in you (God doesn't need permission, but He wants to be invited). Prayer also tells you in indelible ways who God is and who you were created to be. This website is a simple invitation to pray 15 minutes more than you usually do every day.

I will post a prompt (a prayer, a reflection, a picture, etc.) everyday. These will be more the greater lights of the Christian tradition and Scripture; that is, not me! As I am Catholic, some of these pieces may be rooted particularly in Catholic tradition, but my hope is that all Christians would find this a very welcoming place to be for the month. We share a love for the one, true God. I hope this website could lead people to become more accostumed with taking their concerns to God, and learn to listen a bit better and more often.
A fantastic idea ... which I'm late mentioning, naturally ... but don't let that stop you. Go check it out!

Cardinal Francis George - No Holds Barred on Abortion in Speech

Cardinal George from Chicago laid it on the line when opening the USCCB's meeting this morning. Per John Allen:
Cardinal Francis George, speaking this morning as president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said all Americans should “rejoice” that a country which once tolerated slavery has elected an African-American as president – and, in the same breath, he issued a blunt challenge to the new administration on abortion.

“If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons, were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be President of the United States,” George said.

"Today, as was the case a hundred and fifty years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good," he said.

“The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice,” George said, drawing sustained applause from the bishops.

George said that while efforts to end racism and to promote economic justice are “pillars” of Catholic teaching, so too is opposition to abortion. His address drew a standing ovation from the bishops.
I love that guy!

Read all of John Allen's report here. Whispers in the Loggia has the full text of the speech.

Denying Humanity Through Language

... Yet I noticed that when I became pregnant with my first child, I wasn't terrified of losing the "fetus" to miscarriage; I was terrified of losing the baby. When I was 10 weeks pregnant I didn't buy a handheld Doppler so that I could lie in bed and listen to the "clump of tissue"'s heartbeat; I was listening to my child's heartbeat.

When my doctor first told me that I was pregnant, I remember her asking me what vitamins I was taking. I told her about a brand I liked from Whole Foods, and she cut me off in mid-sentence to give me a stern lecture. It was my responsibility to look out for this little person, she told me, and proceeded to inform me of all the amazing development my baby was going through right now. She gave me a prescription for superior vitamins and rattled off a list of dietary changes I needed to make to nourish my baby.

Less than a year later an acquaintance went to this same doctor with a surprise pregnancy that she did not want. The doctor assured her that the procedure for expelling the "fetus" was a simple one and scheduled her for an abortion. This woman was at the same stage of pregnancy as I had been at that first visit, but the word "baby" was not used at her appointment. I was offered an ultrasound to see my new child with my own eyes; she was not. ...
Jen from Conversion Diary has more to jolt us into thinking about what we choose to overlook and downgrade in her piece, Abortion and Holocaust Comparisons.

Worth a Thousand Words

Stuck taken by Hey Jules at Late to Life

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's First Friday ... Fasting and Praying for an End to Abortion

Ok, I realize this is a very late notice ... I actually remembered to do it, but forgot to blog it!

However, if you're joining in and forgot, just pick another day. Tomorrow's first Saturday which would be another lovely day to offer it up for all those who aren't here to enjoy the fall weather, watch football, and feel the love of their families and friends the way that we can.
It all began here in Dallas -- in our home town, where we raise our families, where we go to church, where we live, and love, and learn, and work.

We are three bloggers who also live in the Dallas area. We are deeply committed to ending abortion in this country. To that end, we have committed ourselves to the following: On each First Friday for the next eleven months, we will fast and pray before the Blessed Sacrament for an end to abortion. This year's commitment will culminate at the annual Dallas March for Life in January of 2009, where we will join our bishop and the faithful of this city in marching to the courthouse where Roe was originally argued.
In addition to unborn babies and their families, I will be including all those who work to end abortion, as well as the souls of those who work for abortion in my intentions. Also included will be solid catechesis for all Catholics as that is a key issue to most of the misunderstandings on both this issue and others in the secular world.

Zo's Aftermath Message ... Inspirational

Heavens, how I love this guy!

Worth a Thousand Words

The Fast Day Meal. 1731. Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin. (From Olga's Art Gallery)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Do We Step Back from Our Cultural Immersion and Recognize Evil?

What litmus test could you offer that would apply to all places and all times as a way for a person to look around themselves with completely clear eyes, piercing through even the thickest fog of self-delusion and widespread cultural acceptance, and see that they are surrounded by grave evil? Is there any simple way for a person to immediately undergo an earth-rocking paradigm shift in which they look up and realize that the world around them is not what they thought it was?

One thing that stands out in all these examples is that the victims of the widespread evil were categorized as something less than human. In fact, though the exact level and degree of evil that took place may vary, one thing that unites all of these practices as worthy of a place in the Human Depravity Hall of Fame is not only that innocent people were killed or enslaved, but that their humanity was taken away by the societies around them. The Nazis classified their victims as sub-human, less worthy of life than the better members of the race; wives were burned with their husbands because they were seen as nothing more than property; in the 90's in Rwanda the media fueled the genocide by assuring citizens over and over again that Tutsis were not fully human, referring to them as insects rather than people; the Romans accepted it as a matter of fact that baby girls inherently had fewer rights to live than baby boys; and in early America enslaved men, women and children were accepted by both government and society at large to be barely above livestock in their dignity and worth.
A simply fantastic piece by Jen at Conversion Diary. All prompted by a seemingly innocent photo. Do go read and ponder.